Article Title

Good Design | Hand Tool or Miro's Muse?

Hand Tool Miro


Article by Ellen Bailey Dickson

I am channeling a little bit of Antiques Roadshow hoping that someone out there can tell me what this tool is and how it was used. Its unique shape reminds me of Joan Miro’s Chicago sculpture set in the plaza between the Brunswick Building and the Chicago Temple. Which came first, the tool or the sculpture? A little background might help those of you who are burning to help out.

Recently, the Dickson clan gathered together to look over family ‘treasures’ as my husband’s parents make the move to a retirement community. My grandfather-in-law was a Civilian Conservation Corps carpenter during the 1930’s and I rescued this from his wooden tool chest which sported his name and hometown carved on the lid.

As I pored through his tool box, the shape and proportion of the tool’s three ‘prongs’ seemed like an abstract sculpture to me; balanced against its utilitarian wood handle. The Miro sculpture, though more anthropomorphic in nature, has similar proportions: a top that is seemingly light-weight, thin in profile, yet aggressive in its fork-like shape with a heavier cylindrical base. I’m amused to think how both are shaped to be grasped by a hand (the tool) or an arm (the woman).

Having selected this one tool for its look and feel, I would like to know its purpose. My guess is that it is a type of wood chisel used to make three grooves. I would love to get your ideas. Send them to Ellen at BaileyEdward.com.